Halloween is once again upon us which as a gamer means pigging out on chocolate and diving into a good horror game to really get that adrenaline pumping. However for me the last couple of years it means breaking out my old collection of Scooby Doo games, writing up a retrospective review and coming to the realisation that these games generally aren’t as good as I remember. For this year’s mystery I’ve gone all the way back to the PlayStation One for Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase.
If you’re not familiar with the game then you might be with the direct-to-video movie it’s tied to of the same name. Somehow Scooby and the gang find themselves in cyber space where an entity, dubbed the Phantom Virus, is kicking up a bit of a fuss. As per Mystery Inc. usual MO it’s up to them to put an end to his mischief by beating him at his own game, quite literally. Assuming control over the cowardly duo Shaggy and Scooby Doo you must play though each of the games levels thwarting his henchman and nabbing those Scooby Snacks before finally facing off with him. And these bare essentials are really all there is to the story. If you want something more then go watch the movie.
In terms of appearance the game is mediocre at best. Scooby and the Gang are all present (albeit a bit blocky) and their given life with the nostalgic original cast members all lending their voices to this digital outing. Overall there’s some bad texturing going on in places and weirdly some jumps in frame rate which is confusing when you think how simple the game looks. Yes it’s a PSOne title so it’s not going to look to good now but for a game that came out late in the consoles life cycle you’d expect things to look much more polished. The sound goes more in the positive direction as the background music is simply okay and suits its level but they’re not particularly memorable. The cast like always put on a good performance chirping advice in to levels via Velmas wireless communication…thing. However it does quickly get overly repetitive, particularly Shaggy and Scooby, as they repeat the same lines every time you perform an action.
Though it’s not too obvious from just the first level Cyber Chase is a platformer and a bad one at that. Think Crash Bandicoot without the boxes, platforming that plays at a crawl and lack of difficulty what so ever. The game consists of seven levels that take you from feudal Japan, to a prehistoric jungle to a creepy old amusement park. Depending on the setting you’ll play as either Shaggy or Scooby but really it makes no difference as they both play exactly the same. You essentially run through a long linear level collecting Scooby Snacks and hurling pies at foes all before facing off against one of the Phantom Viruses head honchos. Besides some ‘boulder chase’ scenarios (or rather skeleton driven chariots etc.) the game doesn’t deviate from this formula.
Making matters worse is the clucky controls which become more obvious as levels become more complicated with moving and breaking platforms and the like. It’s so easy to fall off the stages even when just walking and with the locked camera angle it’s hard to judge the length of the duos jumps. When enemies are concerned their placement and attack patterns can also be frustrating as winding up your pie throw is slow, inaccurate and leaves you open to cheap shot if you miss.
Piling on to the Cyber Chases woes is the sheer lack of difficulty. Each level can roughly be finished in 10 minutes meaning the whole game can be breezed through in around 2 hours. You can take out enemies with pies or a butt bash if you’re all out but they pose so little a threat that you can simply run past them without fear of them giving chase. On the other hand if you do want to nail them with a pie just stand well back and they won’t even bother moving and will happily take a pie to the face. Platforming, while a little fiddly, offers up little challenge and any lost lives is the result of awkward controls or cheap shots with the camera placement and unforeseen pitfalls. So what about the boss fights, surely they’d put up more of a fight? Well sadly no. All you have to do is watch the enemies movements, run out of the way of their attack and slather them with a cream pie when prompted. Do it three times and you’re done.
Now for the final nail in its coffin, its lack of replay value. For a start there are no collectibles and even if there were the levels are way to linear to hide anything. As long as you break every box and grab its contents it’s pretty hard to miss anything at all which brings us to the next pointless addition. At the end of each level you’re given a score based on what you’ve collected but you don’t actually get anything for it or breaking it on subsequent playthroughs. To confuse things more you’re not actually given a final overall tally so it kind of begs the question as to its inclusion or purpose.
When I was looking for a new Scooby Doo game to review this game for some reason stuck in my head which is why I decided to replay it. Sadly now I remember why it stuck. It’s such a poor poor Scooby Doo title and game in general. I shouldn’t be surprised for a movie tie in, they’re always come off half-assed and rushed and it’s so clear that this was the case with Cyber Chase. It hurts how mind numbingly easy it is and the way the gameplay crawls along at such as slow pace sucks any joy out of it. Enemies lack any intelligence that they’re barely worth wasting a pie over and the clunky controls makes the easy platforming frustrating with cheap tricks and perception hindrances. Seriously for any fans of Scooby Doo just go watch the direct-to-video movie, it’s not the best Scooby adventure but I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it way more than this train wreck of a game.